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Today, a Telemarketer Made Me Cry

3 Nov

I’m not proud of it. It was not a shining moment of maturity, nor an example of my sanity. But, yes, today a telemarketer made me cry.

She happened to call at a particularly bad time. Let’s just say I had recently dunked my fifth post-Halloween kit-kat (“fun size” my left foot) into my third cup of coffee and was trying to ward off a so-much-work-so-little-time panic attack. This was at least the gazillionth time the same organization has called asking for my mother. In the beginning, it was funny because they added “Dr.” to her name. She’s not a doctor, but my family likes to joke that she could have been so the first (and even the second and third) call was amusing.

When I answered today’s call–teetering on an emotional cliff, even as I reached for the phone–the familiar request for my mother the doctor hit me hard. “Who is this?” I demanded.

The woman remained cheerful. The fool. “This is a political call,” she said. “We’re looking for donations–“

I cut her off right quick. “Well, the person you want isn’t a doctor. And she won’t give you money. And anyway, she’s not here. She works–particularly on Wednesdays, at 1 o’clock in the afternoon. Like. Most. People.”

At this point, my voice was breaking and I’m sure the faceless woman could hear that I was two kit-kats past crazy. “Someone from your group keeps calling. Do these calls even work, anyway? Could you stop? Could you take us off your list and stop calling? Please? PLEASE JUST STOP.”

There was a pause and for a moment I thought that she hung up on me–a first, in my experience with telemarketers.

“I–I understand.” She finally said. “I do apologize.”

I felt a twinge of guilt. She sounded shell-shocked, hesitant. I generally don’t like to be rude (or batshit crazy) to telemarketers. “We’re not interested” is my go-to phrase. (Not sure if that’s a royal we or if I am speaking for the household. Either way, I’m a queen–right?) If they mispronounce our name in a particularly creative way, I politely tell them they have the wrong number. If I’m really feeling non-confrontational, I just say he/she isn’t home. Of course, then they call back later and I have to mentally choose my own adventure: continue the cycle or end it?

So I felt sort of bad for talking to this woman like I was a supporting role from Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.

Until…

“Ma’am?” She ventured. “Would you be interested in providing a donation?”

The Guardian Goddess and the Handypeople

15 Jul

I am the gatekeeper


Alternative titles for this post would be Kitchen Nightmares or Why I Am Becoming a Rapper

We’re having our kitchen partially remodeled. That means plumbers, tile-layers, and various handymen have been trooping through the house for weeks. (I’m waiting for the day when a professional handywoman arrives to help. Sidenote: Did you know that “handywoman” isn’t even a recognized word? Go ahead, go to dictionary.com and look it up ….. Did you do it?? Did you notice that poor dictionary.com thought perhaps you were confused? Did you mean handyman? it asks. Hmph.)

I’ve been playing the role of guardian-gatekeeper for all these skilled workers. I open doors, I point the way to the kitchen, I keep the “guard dogs” from attacking them. All I’ve been missing is a flowing toga dress and a sphinx. Maybe I should have had them all address me as Madame Goddess or something equally catchy, with an almighty ring to it.

I realize this will come as no surprise to anyone who has ever waited for a repairman of any kind, but I’ve been particularly annoyed by the schedules of everyone I’ve dealt with. “We’ll be there between 8 and 9” can mean an arrival time of 8:59, 9:45, or even 11. One day I woke up extra early so I could get my coffee fix, deal with the dogs, make sure their workplace was clean–then I waited. And waited. And waited.

As it happens, I’m doing some freelance work right now. I don’t have the strict 9-5 workday of most people, so I’m supremely qualified to be guardian-gatekeeper. But  just because I’m home, doesn’t mean I’m twiddling my thumbs. You, Mr. Electrician/Repairman/Etc. were not called to the house because I was bored. It’s annoying enough to be given a window of time, only a vague idea, to expect you. If you miss that window? The guardian-gatekeeper will not be pleased. She might even sic her terriers terrors on you, or take a cue from Mulan’s Mushu: “Dishonor! Dishonor on your whole family!” Or….she might talk in the third person and vent on her blog. That’s right–tremble.

You, dear reader, also probably won’t be shocked to learn that everything that could go wrong with this kitchen project, has. The tile people ran out of tile and had to order more, stretching the estimated completion date again and again. (I’m a bit confused why this happened, since the various layouts they did should have given them an idea about how much tile they needed…But then, I’m just a lowly gatekeeper.) This, of course, pushed the electrician back. The plumber ran into lots of plumbing problems. We lived without a stove, without a sink, and with only a few functioning electrical outlets. It was like camping, but with a roof. It was like living a few decades ago, but with a microwave. Okay, I can’t come up with an appropriate comparison–but it was annoying.

Yesterday, the tile-man put tile on the left side of our refrigerator. He thought it was a wall. Now we have, essentially, a bedazzled fridge.

The tile-man who decided that it made sense to put tile on a refrigerator did not seem particularly disturbed once his error was pointed out. I was expecting an apology, embarrassment, anything that would indicate an acknowledgement of the situation. Nope. Nada. As someone who takes mistakes to heart and lets them fester and turn into guilt compost, it boggles my mind that a person can shrug, scratch their head, and move on.

The fridge’s tile can’t come off without ruining the area. So, either we need to start a tile-on-the-refrigerator trend, or I need to become a rapper.

Because I’m pretty sure rappers have tile on their fridges.

Plumbers and Geeks and True Love

11 May

Did someone call tech support?

When I was younger, my mom took me to see the movie Bread & Tulips at a local independent movie theater. I wasn’t really at the right age to appreciate a foreign film (it’s an Italian movie) or some of the struggles the main character Rosalba goes through during the course of the story. I think I was in a bit of a grumpy mood (subtitles will do that to a pre-teen), but I do remember certain parts of the movie very clearly. The views of Venice are amazing, the characters have some very funny lines and moments of physical comedy. What really sticks out, however, is a scene where Grazia (the best friend/supporting character) is gushing to Rosalba about the new guy she just met. She really thinks this is the one; he might not be the most handsome fella in the world, but he makes her heart go pitter patter. The real deal-maker, though? “He’s a plumber!” Grazia whispers to Rosalba excitedly–in the same sort of voice a woman might use to tell her best friend “He loves cuddling and doing laundry!” She’s giddy with love, but something else, too: she sees the answer to all her plumbing problems.

I’ve been having problems with my computer. Today, it froze twice. The first time, the screen blacked out, leaving me staring at my reflection and making mewing noises of distress. The second time, it froze with all stuff still on the screen. I watched the swirling cursor, mesmerized into a horrible paralysis. My computer know-how is very limited. I’ve been using Internet Explorer, for instance, which is apparently so lame that all the cool computer nerds know to hate it. And remember my tragic mishap with the delete button? Technology is my frienemy. My usual fix for a stuck computer is to force-quit and turn it off, but I hate doing that because it feels like I’m smothering it to death.

Oh, I can google problems as good as the next person. But it feels a little like cavorting with the enemy and oftentimes the answers I get assume too much about my prior knowledge. I have a friend who’s pretty tech savvy, but she lives in Canada so her power to help is limited. (Plus, there’s the very real chance that I depend too much on her and my emails now send tingles of dread down her spine. Basically, she may feel our relationship goes something like this.)

Anyway, I was sitting at my desk today, contemplating the emotionally abusive relationship I have with my computer, and Bread & Tulips popped into my head. I now completely identify with Grazia and her plumber-inspired joy. I can totally see myself grinning like a fool and squealing to a friend: “He’s a computer whiz!” Heart be still! Help me fix my computer without talking down to me, think my computer ineptitude is adorable, and I’m yours. Wear a fedora at the same time? Ho boy. 

One woman’s plumber is another’s computer guru.

That’s amore!

P.S
Unbelievably, Bread & Tulips is available to watch (legally) online. So if you’re itching for some context or to bask in the sweet sound of Italian, check it out here.

Life’s Priorities and Ways I Would Not Like to Appear on the News

12 Mar

  

I’ve been watching the news a lot, specifically all the reports on the Japan quake and tsunami. Whenever I switched over to the closer-to-home side of things, every single local news broadcast showed the same thing: Bay Area people upset about their boats. See, the catastrophe in Japan triggered waves that eventually reached the San Francisco Bay Area. In Santa Cruz, waves rolled through the marina, sending boats bobbing like toys in the tub and capsizing many. Now, I sympathize with these people up to a certain point….but they look pretty ridiculous crying on the news and saying things like “This is like, the worst thing that could happen” when the scenes from Japan include death, devastation, and total loss. When I watched a woman sob about her ruined boat for the third time (you know how parts of the news keep getting replayed?) I was pretty disgusted. As Ron said in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: “She needs to sort out her priorities!” Finally, my annoyance bubbled up until I was yelling at the tv. “You’re on the news! People can see and hear you! You lost your mini yacht–big whoop!”

I logged into WordPress, intending to write a big, angry rant as a blog post. But you know, I decided it was unreadable. It wasn’t helpful or clever or wise and it contained quite a few spelling errors (I do that when I’m upset, take it out on my words). It was also unfair. Maybe those boat owners’ soundbites were edited to save time, and the part where they express concern and perspective about Japan was lost. Maybe they’ve had a string of bad luck lately and their boats and the clothes on their back were the only things they had left. Or, maybe they really meant what they said at the time of the recording, but then watched themselves on the news and felt shame and remorse. Who knows? I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

What has come out of this little experience is a reflection on the media and the representation of one’s self. Or…..

 Ways I Would Not Like to Appear on the News:

  1. As a person who can’t see the big picture, a person who cries over lost (unnecessary) property when there is a major loss of life in other parts of the world. (Well, you didn’t think I’d completely let it go, did you?)
  2. As one of those headless obese people. You know what I’m talking about–whenever the news talks about obesity, they show footage from the neck down of overweight people walking the streets and going about their days. I know they do that for anonymity, but I always wonder if any of those people watch the news and think “Hey, that Goofy shirt looks familiar…and I have a purple purse just like that…hey I was near that street today…ohmygod…..”
  3. As an interviewee with no smarts or personality. Sadly, I see this a lot on the news. The reporter in the field pulls aside a man/woman on the street to ask a pertinent question and the interviewee’s answer is painfully awkward or ignorant. There’s also usually stage fright involved, and so the unfortunate person ends up blabbering with a deer in the headlight look.
    “What do you think about the proposed development project that will require the demolition of the 4th street soup kitchen?”
    “Well, uh, I don’t know. I think they should talk about it. Or, maybe ask someone what to do. I, um, don’t go to the soup kitchen but I see it when I walk by… There’s usually people there, so, um, yeah….”
    Oooo, ouch.
  4. As a field reporter in a place nobody wants to be. My heart always goes out to the reporter out in the freezing wind and rain, talking to his/her coworkers back in the cushy office. For all I know, those guys love their jobs, but I think I’d probably snap.
    “Well Diane, as you can see, I’m freezing my butt off. I’ve schleped all the way out here to middle-of-nowhereville to tell you and our viewers that it is frickin’ cold everywhere, but especially so in middle-of-nowhereville. Yes, while you and Mark chuckle about Dusty the kleptomaniac cat in the temperature-controlled newsroom, I’m out here taking on Mother Nature herself…And guess what? The rhymes-with-witch must have just watched Old Yeller because the rain keeps on coming.”

 

What’s that? You want to know about ways I would like to appear on the news? Now that’s an idea….

Dear Other Drivers: You Suck

3 Mar

Dear Other Drivers,

As I was driving to work in the rain today, it came to my attention that you all suck. You alternated between speeding in the torrential downpour and slamming on the brakes for no apparent reason. I suspect that the speeding is due to you ignoring the rain and trying to get to your destination as fast as possible. Are you really that eager to get to work? Here’s a thought–if you had left home a little bit earlier, you wouldn’t have to zip around like your fender is on fire. (Which it very well could be, if you’re the drivers from Hell that I believe you are.) I suspect that the sudden stops are because you were occupied with something else you shouldn’t have been doing. Lady Talking on Cell Phone and Guy Combing His Hair–I’m looking at you. Oh, and Mom With Two Kids in The Backseat? I’m concerned about the lessons your little ones are learning. Monkey see, monkey do, and all that.

Learning experiences are good, and I have a little bit of teacher in me, so allow me to impart some knowledge on you. The turn signal is not only used for turning, but also to indicate when you are changing lanes. It’s a handy thing, the turn signal. It gives the other drivers (with whom you’re sharing the road) a heads up that you will be zooming into their lane. Without it, you and your car appear to rudely cut in front of the other good souls on the road. I promise you that those you cut off will curse you and curse at you 99.9% of the time. I, for example, become very creative when I am mad at other drivers. “I hope you’re impotent!” is my favorite thing to throw their way. Or, “I hope there’s no parking where you’re going!” Sometimes I swear in Italian or make crazy, elephant-like noises. Or I steal from the wordbank of a friend of mine and stick to the satisfying, but less salty, “Swine!” 

You should also know that in California when you need to turn on your windshield wipers, you’re legally required to also turn on your headlights. It’s not an urban legend. If you don’t believe me, it’s in the California Driver’s Handbook. And you know what? It just makes sense–especially for you swine who don’t signal. Maybe your lights will help alert other drivers and save you from baldness and stepping in gum in your good shoes. (I forgot–those are some more of my curses.)

Yes, I know it’s been raining very hard–but c’mon! The rest of the country already makes fun of us for our pampered weather (nevermind that Northern California can actually get quite cold). If you can’t drive safely and responsibly in the rain then what would you have done if it had actually snowed last week? Picture it: a scene of utter chaos where ignorant drivers bring about the death of Justin Bieber, the rise of mutant Republican zombies, and the detachment of California from the rest of the country. Yep, it could happen….and all because of YOU, bad drivers.

You have now been educated, informed, and ranted at. I now feel that I have helped the needy. Now you can help the less fortunate (i.e. anyone who drives near you) by shaping up and driving like a person with a brain.

Respectfully yours,

The Girl in the White Honda That You Almost Hit

My Fair Lady Redone: I Doubt It Will Be Loverly

20 Feb

Preface:
You may recall that although I’m confused by perky people, I love me a musical. If you are unfamiliar with My Fair Lady (Oh my word! How could that be?), this post may mean very little to you. I urge you to go out and rent the movie. Go ahead. I’ll wait here.

I just found out that one of my favorite movie musicals, My Fair Lady, is going to be redone and I am not pleased. I am against messing with a classic and I am particularly loyal to that musical. At eight years old, I could sing every word of “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?” and because I don’t do musical reenactments halfway, I could sing it with the cockney accent and everything. I would watch the nearly 3 hour movie over and over until my grandma threatened to take away my parasol. (Well, you can’t act out that fabulously fashionable racetrack scene without a parasol…)

Just you wait Henry Higgins! You'll fall for Eliza eventually!

The feminist in me is  embarrassed to admit how fascinated I am with the romance in My Fair Lady. It doesn’t matter how many times I watch Mr. Higgins’ terrible treatment of Eliza. (She ate marbles because of that man! He called her a heartless guttersnipe!) He wins me over by the time he breaks into “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face.” (Incidentally, I believe that’s one of my top 5 favorite musical songs.) That part at the end, after Eliza has left him and he’s at his mother’s house? He looks at his feisty mom and says bewilderedly “She’s gone. What….what am I to do?” Boom. Give me a Team Higgins shirt and fetch the man his damn slippers, I’m hooked.

It’s terrible and I’m ashamed of myself, but there it is. I’ll bet the same side of my brain that goes gooey for Henry Higgins is also responsible for my unreasonable love for the musical Grease–another musical that doesn’ t send the best message for females. I’ll have to ask my cog-sci major friend. Maybe my amygdala is more of a Pygmalion-ygdala.

There’s talk that the upcoming remake of My Fair Lady will feature Colin Firth as Mr. Higgins. In fact, Sony allegedly won’t make the film without him. Now, Mr. Darcy Colin Firth is a fine actor. He is the MASTER of the quiet, emotionally-tortured facial expression. I dig him in Bridget Jones’ Diary. (You could say that I like him just the way he is.) I even liked him in Mamma Mia and What a Girl Wants. Everyone thinks he’s all but guaranteed the Oscar for The King’s Speech. But hear me now: I just don’t see him as Mr. Higgins. He’d have to be arrogant and slightly verbally abusive and “too cool” to joyfully leap out of his chair when the woman he loves comes home to him. Henry Higgins is not quiet and he’s not awkward and cutie Colin will not have the chance to show how sad his eyes can look. I can see him as Colonel Pickering, maybe, but not Henry.

I just think they should leave well enough alone. Can’t you Hollywood hotshots come up with NEW ideas? Remember, trying to re-do an already wonderful film is an uphill battle. If you screw around with the story or the scenes or the characters too much then you’ll have rabid fans after you. (Yes, there ARE rabid musical fans.) And if you stick too closely to the original oldy-but-goody then you run the risk of being accused of copying. The way I see it, you’re damned if you do and damned if you do, so I’ll be damned if I’m going to support you.

…………Okay, yes, there’s a certain twisted irony to my aversion to this remake. The My Fair Lady movie I am stubbornly clinging to was, if you think about it, a remake of the Broadway play with Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison. The Broadway play was an adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion. I’m no Kevin Bacon, but that’s several degrees of un-separation and a history of screwing with the original.

But still. A My Fair Lady remake? No. Just…no.

Even though I know you’ve rushed out and rented and watched the film by now, here’s the ending (with my favorite song) for your viewing pleasure.